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MD Route 75

Project Abstract

The purpose of this project was rehabilitation and improvement of MD 75 through the Town of Union Bridge including improvement of the sidewalks along the corridor while creating a “sense of place” as you enter into Union Bridge and maintaining and enhancing the historic qualities of the community.



MD Route 75: MD Route 75 Bumpout
MD Route 75 Bumpout

This is one of 33 case studies included in National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Report 642 entitled Quantifying the Benefits of Context Sensitive Solutions, published in November 2009.  According to the authors, “The objective of this project is to develop a guide for transportation officials and professionals that identifies a comprehensive set of performance measures of CSS principles and quantifies the resulting benefits through all phases of project development”. The report documents a wide range of case studies in which the principles of CSS were applied. Each of these case studies was evaluated to determine the benefits of applying CSS. NCHRP Report 642 is available here.

Location: Town of Union Bridge, MD 

Lead Agency: Maryland State Highway Agency 

Phase completed:
Construction

 

Source: Stamatiadis, Nikiforos, et. al. Context Sensitive Solutions: Quantification of the Benefits in Transportation. National Cooperative Highway Research Program – Report 642. 2009.

 

CSS Qualities


Project Team (make up)
A multi-disciplinary design team was formed including highway, drainage, lighting, geotechnical, structural and traffic engineering, landscape architecture, and environmental science.

Stakeholders (make up, utilization, interaction)
A Task Force was set up that included representatives from the design team, the State, business owners, adjacent property owners, and concerned citizens.

Public involvement (types, documentation)
Project alternatives were developed in close coordination with members of the Task Force. The alternatives analysis included a matrix of key elements, such as safety, cost, and impacts. This matrix, as well as the rendered concept plans for the alternatives was reviewed by the Task Force and then presented to the Mayor and the Main Street Revitalization Committee for input and comments. Monthly updates in the form of newsletters were mailed to residents. Visual tools used for presentation at the community meetings included:

  • Color rendered concept plans of the alternatives and all of the historic properties
  • Color rendered landscape plan
  • 3 dimensional perspective renderings showing before and after views of the Town
  • A display showing the bump outs at Broadway and MD 75
  • Site visits of key features to assist in visualizing location of new work SHA representatives were always available to address any issue that might arise.

Throughout construction partnership meetings were held to address any concerns and keep everyone up to date on construction schedules. Local participation in the project from start to finish resulted in the Town accepting responsibility for maintenance of aesthetic treatments.

Design Solution (process, modes and alternatives examined)
The improvement of pedestrian access, speed reduction through the town, and development of alternative route for the cement trucks were design challenges that were addressed with the help of the task force. The geometric layout of the resulting project aimed to minimize property impacts. Sight lines to businesses were carefully considered in the design of the proposed landscaping. Sidewalks and crosswalks were constructed using patterns and colors which complimented the historic character of the Town.

CSS concepts by Project Phase
The use of the task force was essential in developing solutions and communicating them to the public. Items of importance to the residents and businesses in the Town were assessed during the early Task Force meetings through discussions with Town officials, property owners, and the Main Street Revitalization Committee. Later in the planning phase, public meetings were held that allowed for understanding what was important to the community by receiving the input of concerned citizens. These community values included safety, accessibility, visibility for businesses, aesthetic enhancements, and the desire for creating a “sense of place” as you enter into Union Bridge. These values were incorporated into the design by selecting the alternative that was best able to address these values. The project creates a lasting value for the community by providing an aesthetically pleasing corridor, maintains the historic character of the area, and improved pedestrian safety and opportunities. A memorandum of understanding regarding maintenance of the landscaping and gateway signs was developed and signed.

Lessons
Learned
The success of SHA’s process was measured by the feedback given during the Task Force meetings and the meetings that were held with a larger group of stakeholders. SHA’s District Office is in continuous contact with the Town’s leaders who convey comments from motorists, elected officials, business owners, and citizens in the Town of Union Bridge. Early and continuous communication avoided possible problems later in the project design and construction. The public involvement resulted in a shorter time for the project delivery.

CSS Principles

 
A fundamental aspect of the NCHRP 642  research effort was the identification of CSS principles. The principles below were developed by a multidisciplinary team and were based on previous work by FHWA and AASHTO participants in the 1998 “Thinking Beyond the Pavement” conference, and others.

For this case study, web-based surveys were developed to solicit the expert opinions of the project team on the level of satisfaction from the application of the CSS principles on the project. The analysis of the scores noted in the survey, and presented in the following table, is based on a 4.0 scale, where 4.0 is Strongly Agree, 3.0 is Agree, 2.0 is Disagree, and 1.0 is Strongly Disagree.  Additional information on the data analysis, a summary of the scores for each case study, and general findings (from all case studies) is presented in the NCHRP Report 642, available here.

 

CSS Principle

Project Team

Use of interdisciplinary teams

3.5

Involve stakeholders

3.8

Seek broad-based public involvement

3.4

Use full range of communication methods

3.4

Achieve consensus on purpose and need

3.6

Utilize full range of design choices

3.4

Address alternatives and all modes

3.1

Maintain environmental harmony

3.4

Address community & social issues

3.3

Address aesthetic treatments & enhancements

3.3

Consider a safe facility for users & community

3.5

Document project decisions

3.4

Track and meet all commitments

3.4

Create a lasting value for the community

3.5

Use all resources effectively (time & budget)

3.3

Discussion on CSS Principles


Project Team’s Perspective
There were 12 respondents that were considered as team members, including the responses of the person identified as the team leader. The project team indicated that in general all principles were present, since all had a score of 3.0 or greater (i.e. agreed that at least the principle was there). The principle with the lowest score was “Address all alternatives and all modes” (3.1).

The project included an interdisciplinary team that covered all anticipated (required) areas and it seemed to have worked well. The responses received came from team members who identified themselves as design engineers, environmental specialists, construction engineers, highway district engineers, utility relocation specialists, project management and program managers. All were involved in the design phase of the project and several were involved in project planning and construction as well. The highway district engineer was also involved in the maintenance phase of the project and there were a few members that were involved in two or more phases of the project. Approximately two-thirds of the respondents had a long experience with CSS projects (over 6 years) and only two respondents indicated that they were new to CSS with 0-3 years of experience. Finally, most team members had more than 10 years of relevant experience.

As noted above, there was only one principle that had a low score (3.1) indicating that this principle was “barely” applied. A further review of the comments provided by the team members that scored this principle with the low score did not provide any additional information to clarify the reasons for the low score.

There is only one principle that the team was in agreement that was highly met; “Involve stakeholders” (3.8). This strong agreement was also highlighted in several of the comments provided where the involvement of the stakeholders was discussed by several members and was noted as a significant lesson-learned from the process followed.

CSS Benefits


Surveys were also utilized to ask the project team, as well as external stakeholders in the process, about their perceptions of the benefits derived from a CSS process. As with the surveys regarding CSS Principles, the Benefits were scored on a 4.0 scale, where 4.0 is Strongly Agree, 3.0 is Agree, 2.0 is Disagree, and 1.0 is Strongly Disagree.  

CSS Benefit

Measured

Stakeh.

Team

Improved stakeholder/public feedback

NA

3.3

Increased stakeholder/public participation compared to other projects

NA

2.8

Increased stakeholder/public participation

--

3.3

Increased stakeholder/public ownership

--

3.5

Increased stakeholder/public trust

--

3.3

Decreased costs for overall project delivery

NA

2.2

Decreased time for overall project delivery

NA

2.4

Improved predictability of project delivery

--

2.7

Improved project scoping

NA

3.0

Improved project budgeting

NA

3.0

Increased opportunities for partnering or shared funding or in-kind resources

--

3.3

Improved opportunities for joint use and development

--

3.1

Improved sustainable decisions and investments

NA

3.2

Improved environmental stewardship

NA

3.2

Minimized overall impact to human environment

--

3.1

Minimized overall impact to natural environment

--

3.2

Improved mobility for all users

--

3.3

Improved walkability

--

3.5

Improved bikeability

--

2.9

Improved safety (vehicles, pedestrians, and bikes)

--

3.5

Improved multi-modal options

--

2.8

Improved community satisfaction

--

3.4

Improved quality of life for community

--

3.4

Fit with local government land use plan

--

3.5

Improved speed management

--

2.9

Design features appropriate to context

--

3.5

Optimized maintenance and operations

NA

3.4

Minimized disruption

--

3.3

Increased risk management and liability protection

NA

2.8

Discussion on Benefit Values


Semi-Quantitative Benefits
There were no stakeholders that completed the survey. Overall, team members indicated that several benefits materialized as a result of the process followed. Several benefits have a score greater than 3.0 indicating that the survey participants at least agree that the benefit was achieved. There are five benefits with a score of 3.5 (the highest noted among the responses and indicating that the participants were split) including “Increased stakeholder/public participation”, “Improved walkability”, “Design features appropriate to the context”, “Improved safety”, and “Fit with local government land use plan”. These benefits indicate that the project resulted in an appropriate contextual design for the community.

There are a few benefits that had a score below 3.0 that indicate that the respondents believe that the benefit was marginally materialized. Among those with the lowest scores were “Decreased costs for overall project delivery”, “Decreased time for overall project delivery”, and “Improved predictability of project delivery”. These answers indicate that the respondents perceive that the process resulted in longer time and higher costs for the project and had no significant effects on predictability of the project completion.

Quantitative Benefits
There was no additional information provided to the research team to be utilized in the development of quantifiable benefits.

Arnstein C
omparison
The surveys conducted for this case study included a set of questions that could be used to evaluate potential differences in the level of satisfaction between project team members and stakeholders. These differences in satisfaction are known as the Arnstein gap, which is a heuristic metric by which the existing quality deficit of public involvement can be measured. Arnstein developed an eight-step scale (Arnstein’s Ladder) characterizing levels of public involvement in planning, ranging from “Manipulation” of the public (non-participation) to “Citizen Control” of the process. The NCHRP 642 authors adapted this approach to assess the perceptions of stakeholders and the project team.

 

Arnstein Questions Part 1

Stakeh.

Team

I am satisfied with the relationship we had with project team

--

NA

I am satisfied with the relationship I had with the stakeholders

NA

3.3

I am satisfied with the relationship I had with the interested public

NA

3.4

I am satisfied with the procedures and methods that allowed input to project decisions

--

3.2

Note: The project team and stakeholder scores are based on the survey results of a 4.0 scale (4: strongly agree; 3: agree; 2: disagree; and 1: strongly disagree). 

 

Arnstein Questions Part 2

Stakeh.

Team

My relationship with the project team was best described as

--

NA

My relationship with the stakeholders was best described as

NA

2.5

My relationship with the interested public was best described as

NA

2.4

Note: The project team and stakeholder rankings are based on the survey results of a 4.0 scale (4: They allowed us to provide direction; 3: We established a partnership; 2: We established a consultation relationship; and 1: We established an informational relationship).

This section evaluates the relative view and perceptions between the stakeholders and the team to determine whether both have the same experience and level of satisfaction. However, in this case this was not possible due to the lack of stakeholder responses. The team showed high levels of satisfaction working with both stakeholders and public. The question on the level of relationship between team and stakeholders showed that team members viewed that relationship between consultation and partnership.

Overall Level of Success
This project demonstrated a successful application of CSS processes thorough the use of an interdisciplinary team, the establishment of an advisory committee, and continuous communication with the public and stakeholders. These efforts resulted in a in a shorter time for the project delivery and the development of a project that creates a lasting value for the community by providing an aesthetically pleasing corridor, maintains the historic character of the area, and improved pedestrian safety and opportunities.



MD Route 75 Bumpout     
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